TITLE: SMALL WONDER - THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON
DVD Release Date: June 22, 2010 (Shout! Factory Select Title)
Color / 1986-87
Packaging: Keep case
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 24
Running Time: approx. 540 minutes
Subtitles and Captioning: None
Special Features: Fan Created Printable Coloring Sheet
La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la- la- la- la- la-LA! She's a small wonder and she is back on DVD eveyrwhereeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Small Wonder: The Complete Second Season is now on DVD from Shout! Factory! But this will be only available as a Shout! Select title, meaning on their website only.
The adventures of the Lawson family and their adopted robot daughter continue! Genius cybernetics engineer Ted Lawson (Dick Christie) and his family have succeeded in convincing their nosy neighbors the Brindles (Edie McClurg, Emily Schulman) as well as Child Protective Services that his top-secret invention, a Voice Input Child Identicant or V.I.C.I. (Tiffany Brissette), is a real little girl. Joan Lawson (Marla Pennington-Rowan), has grown to love her new robot daughter, while precocious son Jamie (Jerry Supiran) still can’t stop himself from secretly programming Vicki to do various odd jobs -- including speech therapist.
Small Wonder aired for five seasons in syndication (on weekends, on mostly Fox stations) and often reran out of order, to the chagrin of fans (not to mention the writers). All 24 original second season episodes are included here in their intended order!
The episodes are enchanting and in airdate order on this DVD. Memorable episodes include the first episode of the season “Chewed Out,” where Jamie learns a sobering lesson in using smoking and chewing tobacco to elevate his freshman status in junior high. In “The Older Woman,” Jamie pushes Harriet aside in an unrequited crush on her 16-year-old cousin, who teaches him a lesson in respect. In “P-P-P Paula,” to help Jamie's shy and withdrawn classmate who stutters, Ted programs Vicki to be her speech therapist. In “The Shoplifter,” while in a store with Jamie looking for a present for her mock birthday party to convince Child Services that they treat her well, Vicki picks up an expensive watch and is picked up for shoplifting. In “Victor/Vick-toria,” to help his Little League team's rock-bottom status, Jamie disguises Vicki as a boy to use her robotic abilities to bat for the pennant. And in the season finale, “Double Wedding,” Ted and Joan decide to have the ceremonial wedding they never had -- until the Brindles butt in.
Guest starring this season are Gino Conforti, Le Tari, JoMarie Payton, Brian Austin Green, Brad Blaisdell, and Jesse Ventura. Recurring stars are Paul C. Scott as Reggie, Daryl T. Bartley as Warren, and William Bogert as Brandon Brindle.
Each episode is almost exactly the same in length at around 22:20. This series aired in first-run syndication, so that runtime is not edited. Nothing is removed here, as far as I know. Runtimes of each episode by disc follows:
1. Chewed Out 22:18
2. Money, Money, Money 22:21
3. My Mother The Teacher 22:21
4. Here Comes The Judge 22:18
5. Home Sweet Homeless 22:18
6. Crazy Like a Fox 22:19
7. The Older Woman 22:18
8. Who’s the Boss? 22:20
9. P-P-P Paula 22:18
10. You Gotta Have Heart 22:20
11. The Shoplifter 22:21
12. Thanksgiving Story 22:21
13. Neighborhood Watch 22:16
14. Movin’ Up 22:19
15. Top Secret 22:19
16. The Personality Kid 22:20
17. Matchmaker, Matchmaker 22:20
18. Little Miss Shopping Mall 22:19
19. Victor/Vick-toria 22:20
20. Look Into My Eyes 22:20
21. Wally the Wimp 22:20
22. The Cat’s Meow 22:19
23. Vicki Goodwrench 22:22
24. Double Wedding 22:20
We get a keep case holding the discs inside on two plastic holders. Last time, we had a cardboard box holding two plastic slim cases. The cover art of the case has a nice family cast photo with Harriet, too. The color scheme for the set is basically red. The back of the case has info on the series and set, along with a yellow box listing the bonus feature, a shot of Vicki’s back with her access panel showing and two still shots from episodes. As mentioned, inside the case we have four discs on two plastic holders. Each disc gets its own side and we can flip it like pages in a book. The artwork on the panels is a red background and we also get a disc-by-disc breakdown and three still shots from episodes on each panel. The artwork on the discs is red and has the show logo and what disc number it is. It looks like a microchip inside the red. So we have microchips here and there, sort of!
Menu Design and Navigation:
Like with the first season DVD, the menu starts off with some computer oriented transition, maybe a microchip, and then we hear the theme song playing in the background. Each menu on each disc is similar and has a shot of Vicki. Each menu is different in color though. Disc one and two are in shades of blue, disc three is purple, and disc four is green -- exactly the same as the previous set. On disc one before you get to the Main Menu, we have auto trailers for stuff like Punky Brewster, Mr. Belvedere, and My Two Dads. The options are: Play All, Episodes and Bonus Feature (disc four only). The Episodes menu is simple and easy, it lists the episode title. The Bonus Feature lists the only bonus feature on disc four. Once again, just a suggestion to Shout! for next time: let’s have the main menu look like Vicki’s access panel (you know, the thing on her back). And then we can choose our options on that. That would have been better!
Video and Audio Quality:
Before the main menu on a few of the discs it says there are some tape flaws from the original masters. So, some episodes do not look too good. Otherwise, the video is OK I think. It is not perfect by far, but for a series from the ‘80s, it is as good as it can be really I guess. We should be happy this show is finally on DVD and continuing beyond season one, since it hasn’t aired on TV in many years. In fact, I haven’t seen the series in well over 15 years at least. I loved watching the series as a kid on WNYW Fox-5 in the NY market. Anyway, the audio is also good. It isn’t the good stereo we hear on today’s sitcoms, but it is at a good sound level. We get 4 chapter stops for each episode.
The previous DVD had some ‘enchanting’ bonus features, but not on this set. Not even the original promos are on this DVD...bummer. Even a bigger bummer is that we no audio commentaries on this set. The previous set had five episodes with commentaries. So what do we get on this set? On disc four, if you put this disc inside your DVR-ROM drive on your computer you can print a coloring sheet. Yes, that is the only special feature on this set. It is titled “Fan Created Printable Coloring Sheet.” I’d rather have promos and commentaries. Hopefully next time, I guess.
I commend Shout! Factory in continuing this series on DVD, even if it is only a Shout! Select title this time. By having it a Select title, this is a cheapened set, though. We don’t get as good packaging and no where near the quality of special features as last time. I said last time that we should definitely have promos on every remaining season, but they didn’t listen. At least the could have given us that very short reunion from last year on The Morning Show with Mike & Juliet with Tiffany Brissette in the studio surprised by Marla Pennington, Dick Christie, and Edie McClurg via satellite. Shout! Select or not, I hope the series continues to come out at least. We have three more seasons to go, so I think they will release the rest as a Select title on their website, which is better than nothing I guess. Certainly Fox never wanted to release the series, so kudos to Shout! Factory. Please release season three ASAP, Shout! Let’s hope it is released just as fast as Vicki’s fast speed mode!
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 3.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 0.5/5
Menu Navigation/Design: 4/5
-- Reviewed by Pavan on 07/02/10
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